About SPNA

The Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) is the collective community voice for addressing neighborhood issues such as zoning, security, beautification, traffic, metropolitan services, and environment.

SPNA members meet on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Senior Renaissance Center of Cohn Adult Learning Center at 4805 Park Avenue.

About Sylvan Park

Welcome to Sylvan Park! We hope you love this neighborhood as much as we do. Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for newcomers to learn more.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Produce Place: 25 Years and Counting

The Produce Place hosts a customer appreciation day on Saturday, July 13th
When I stopped by the Produce Place on Saturday, owner Barry Burnette was in his element. Burnette was tending to sliders on the grill and expertly rotating fresh corn, all while doing what he loves most: talking produce and talking to his customers. Downing Cattle Company from Kentucky supplied the beef, and the corn came from Springfield, Tennessee, picked less than twenty-four hours earlier.

What started as a dream and the simple idea of bringing the taste of fresh food to the masses, culminated in a 25-year anniversary celebration for Produce Place on Saturday. Burnette and his staff threw a customer appreciation party by grilling out in the parking lot and discounting some of their produce.

“I feel fortunate and proud about the staff that we’ve had so long,” reflected Burnette, looking out over the packed parking lot in front of the store entrance. “Our key staff has been with me for 21 years, between four of them, almost 100 years. I’m very proud of that. I tend to take bragging rights on that.”

Burnette credits a bit of fate for all of his success. When the building on the corner of 40th and Murphy Road finally went up for sale in the early ‘80s, Burnette was a day too late in making an offer. But, as luck would have it, Burnette knew the person who wanted to buy it.

“His wife told me he was down in Florida so I called him and we talked for a bit and I just asked him if he would let go of the contract and throw me a bone. He called me back in two days at the office and he said ‘I believe I’m going to throw you that bone.’”

Burnette wanted to keep the character of the old grocery
store, originally built in 1926, but did have to gut the downstairs portion (the upstairs still has original wallpaper) before officially opening for business.“Today, 25 years ago, it was raining when I came to work.
Our sign maker was behind on putting our sign up, so there wasn’t a sign up the day we opened and it was raining the first half of the day,” Burnette remembers. “I put an ad in the old-time Nashville Scene [for] ‘free lettuce.’ I thought I was going to give away 250. We gave away six, not 600, but six for the week.”It’s a story that makes Burnette laugh, especially since a long-time customer of Produce Place is one of the six people who came in that day for free lettuce. But Burnette says when they got a little blurb in the paper a few months later, business took off and hasn’t slowed down since.
Burnette talks with customers
Burnette credits the neighborhood (he’s lived in Sylvan Park since 1982), the fantastic customer base, his employees and local farmers for making the Produce Place what it is today and says he has no plans of changing pace.

“I’m still going to do it for a while. I love it. I really love doing it. Somebody asked me ‘What’s your recipe for longevity?’ I put love in it, I really do and so does our staff. They really enjoy their job and I really enjoy what I do.”

Even though the Produce Place has gone from one employee to twenty-three, Burnette says he still enjoys calling his customers by name. So next time you find yourself wandering through the aisles, taking in the sites and smells of our neighborhood grocery store, Burnette says he hopes customers will say hello.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:22 PM

    Love you Barry!! Even though I don't get to shop at the store or entertain my neighbors at Halloween or Christmas anymore, memories mean a lot. You are a special person. Bet you will know who this is without a name because I am still a fighter for Park Avenue and our Historic Richland Park. Stop by sometime....